Archive for Eddie Van Halen

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Van Halen- 1984

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

History is the reason why I am beginning the journey through 1984 with Van Halen’s sixth album, which is also named after this same year. Going back to in time, minutes after the bells rang in 1984 as the new year, MTV started the year by playing the first single from the album, “Jump.” Like many a metalhead at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the large amount of keyboards used in the song. However, I didn’t think the song was bad and Eddie proved he knew his way around a keyboards almost as well as he does his guitar. That’s how the year started for me. I then proceeded to get rather sloppy drunk as you do on the new year.

After “Jump,” things go back to more traditional Van Halen territory, with one exception, which I’ll get to. “Panama” was also released as a single and I definitely like it more than “Jump.” Eddie works his magic with the guitar and David Lee Roth uses his mouth in the only way he knows. I’m not just talking about his singing either. I’ve always liked his talking bit in the middle of “Panama.” “I reached down and put the seat back.” It doesn’t translate well here in print but if you listen to the song, you’ll see what I mean.

“Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are both good songs and I like the little guitar bits done on both songs. However, whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” my mind immediately goes to when I heard the song used in an episode of “Family Guy.” For those who don’t know, it’s the episode where Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe and find a world where Meg is hot.

Drop Dead Legs played to this scene

Another good thing about both of those songs is that they lead beautifully to my favourite song on the album, “Hot for Teacher.” Every thing you loved about Van Halen is found on this song. Roth’s little quips between the verses and don’t forget, he can sing some too. Eddie plays the longest solo of all the songs on the album and very well too and of course we can never forget the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. While these two remain tight on the whole album, they seem especially so on “Hot forTeacher.”

After my favourite song comes the other exception. “I’ll Wait” is another keyboard dominated song but I never disliked it. If Van Halen had been making albums in the 1970s, many people would have used this song to label them a progressive rock band. Still, Eddie plays a decent solo on it. “I’ll Wait” leads the way for the album to go out on the good foot. I do like the intro on “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” is a suitable closer. For me, though I hadn’t listened to “Diver Down” at the time, I still drew the conclusion that “1984” was three steps up from it. Now that I have listened to that album, I will stay say that this one is the better album.

Track Listing:

  1. 1984
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I’ll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad
  9. House of Pain

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, backing vocals

This was how my 1984 began. There aren’t too many better ways to ring in a new year but what I do know now is that Van Halen’s “1984” opened the port hole to all the great music that would come our way in this year.

Next post: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Brian May and Friends- Starfleet Project

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Starflet3pq

Here’s another album that would have passed me by hadn’t been for MTV. The single from Queen guitarist Brian May’s album, (yes I know it’s really an EP) “Starfleet Project” was never played on radio, at least not on my local station in New Jersey and this was before it degenerated into a top forty station. I remember the video for “Starfleet.” It looked like something out of “The Thunderbirds” with the puppets and stuff. The science fiction theme to the video added to it. To be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about the video but I loved the song and thus, had to get the EP.

From the video to "Starfleet"

From the video to “Starfleet”

Now you have probably noticed that the album is from Brian May and Friends and boy did Brian choose the right friends to help him record this. He got Eddie Van Halen to accompany him on the guitar and Alan Gratzer from REO Speedwagon fame to do the honours on the drums. Those names right there should tell you that what you are about to hear is totally going to blow you away and they do.

There might only be three songs on the album but they are three memorable ones, plus the fact that the shortest of these three is still over seven minutes made “Starfleet Project” an album in my book back then. Starting with the title track, it is the more commercial of the three. Brian shows that he knows his way around a keyboard a little bit but he still does some great guitar work on the song. I had always suspected from his Queen days that he could sing and he clearly shows it here.

Track two is the more bluesy “Let Me Out.” Here, May and Van Halen really start to go to town with the solos. They are so good that I can never remember what Brian wants to be let out of. However, it’s the third track that takes you to Neptune and beyond. Here we have the two mentioned guitar greats paying tribute to another guitar god, Eric Clapton, with “Blues Breaker.” When that happens you are guaranteed nothing short of guitar heaven. For nearly thirteen minutes, Brian and Eddie go back and forth trading off guitar solos, each one as good as the last. There is a short break in the action for a bit of ivory tinkling from Fred Mandel but things go back to the blistering solos. This song alone makes the entire album a must have.

Track Listing:

  1. Starfleet
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Blues Breaker
Brian May

Brian May

Brian May- guitar, vocals, keyboards

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Alan Gratzer- drums

Phil Cohen- bass

Freddie Mandel- keyboards

Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Starfleet”

Queen might have been taking a hiatus in 1983 but Brian May wasn’t. He went well above and beyond and showed his true talents on this album.

Next post: Bob Dylan- Infidels

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Stray Cats- Built For Speed

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2016 by 80smetalman

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Internet didn’t exist back in 1983 and that is going to be my excuse for posting an album that came out in the middle of 1982 in 1983. A quick historical point here, it was the early 1980s when computer technology was becoming accessible to the common masses. I did do an introductory course in computers during my first semester at college in the Autumn of this year but that’s not important here. What is was the fact that back then, I had to rely on record stores, radio, word of mouth and a late night television show called “Video Rock” to learn about new music. Our house didn’t even get MTV until the December of this year! It was the mentioned television show where I first learned about the Stray Cats in the summer of 1983.

It was their 1950s look and sound that first got my attention. At a time where everyone was trying to be different, the Stray Cats actually were. While I wasn’t very impressed with the first single I heard, “Stray Cats Strut,” I did like the second one that reached my ears, “Rock This Town.” Even though, like most people, I got the impression they were in love with the fifties, I thought they were at least trying to be original at the time. Besides, with “Rock This Town,” they proved to me they were good musicians. Brian Setzer was a competent guitarist, (no Van Halen or Nugent but competent) and Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker work very well together as a rhythm section, a point I will certainly expand on when I get to 1985.

The Stray Cats’ album “Built For Speed,” pretty much sounds like the two songs I’ve already mentioned. They are firmly locked in the 1950s rockabilly sound reminiscent of Eddie Cochran or Bill Haley and the Comets, not a bad thing. Each song, with the exception of the slower “Lonely Summer Nights” possesses a catchy sound that draws you in. It might not get you to start fist pumping and banging your head but I did find myself wanting to snap my fingers along with them, which is saying something for someone with no natural rhythm. Apart from “Rock This Town,” the other songs which stand out for me are “Little Miss Prissy,” “Rumble in Brighton” and “Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie.” All contain a strong dose of the elements that turned my ear to the Stray Cats in the first place. Not only was it something different at the time, what was different was done very well.

Track Listing:

  1. Rock This Town
  2. Built for Speed
  3. Rev It Up & Go
  4. Stray Cats Strut
  5. Little Miss Prissy
  6. Rumble in Brighton
  7. Runaway Boys
  8. Lonely Summer Nights
  9. Double Talkin’ Baby
  10. You Don’t Believe Me
  11. Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie
  12. Baby Blue Eyes
Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Brian Setzer- vocals, guitar

Slim Jim Phantom- drums, percussion, vocals

Lee Rocker- double bass, bass, vocals

Outside of this album, I have little experience of the Stray Cats. For me, their 1950s persona would only last for the one album. Their next album would pretty much escape my notice and in the years following, it would be their post break up projects that I would be more into. Saying all this, however, doesn’t stop “Built For Speed” from being a pretty good album.

Next post: Michael Stanley Band- You Can’t Fight Fashion

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Greg Kihn Band- Kihnspiracy

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 28, 2016 by 80smetalman

kihnspiracy

1983 was the most commercially successful year for the Greg Kihn Band. They’re best known hit “Jeopardy” went to number two in the singles charts and only “Beat It” by Michael Jackson kept it off the top spot. Maybe they should have gotten Eddie Van Halen to play a guitar solo on that song.

“Jeopardy” opens the 1983 album, “Kihnspiracy” and once the single is done and dusted, that’s when the album really kicks into gear. The very next track, “Fascination” begins with a great luring guitar intro and it is a rocker that really shapes the rest of the album. Likewise with the next track, “Tear Down the City” but only this begins with some cool lead guitar licks. Things go down a similar vein with the next couple of tracks. “You Can’t Love Them All” is a very amusing track and the guitar solos on it are first rate.

Having this on cassette, I can say that side two does eventually slow down. “I Fall to Pieces” isn’t as fast as any of the songs on side one, barring the big single but the hard guitars are strongly felt nonetheless. “Someday” is the song where keyboards are heard the most but it is still a rock song. Lead guitarist, Greg Douglass, who joined the band on the album shows he knows a little about how to play a guitar. “Curious” is the hardest song on the second side and then the album goes out with two slightly more softer songs, although “How Long” does have a cool, almost acoustic intro. Listening to the album after so many years, I think some of these songs would sound really cool if covered by a metal bands. A surprisingly good forgotten album.

Track Listing:

  1. Jeopardy
  2. Fascination
  3. Tear Down the City
  4. Talking to Myself
  5. You Can’t Love Them All
  6. I Fall to Pieces
  7. Someday
  8. Curious
  9. How Long
  10. Love Never Fails
Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Greg Douglass- lead/slide guitars, vocals

Larry Lynch- drums, vocals

Steve Wright- bass, vocals

Gary Phillips- keyboards

The tragic thing about the Greg Kihn band is that when people think of them and remember 1983, they will always be associated with their biggest single and not for the hard rocking album that “Kihnspiracy” is. That is a tragedy.

Next post: The Tubes- Outside Inside

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Great Metal Albums of 1982: Van Halen- Diver Down

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by 80smetalman

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It was while on liberty in Toulon, France that I saw Van Halen’s fifth album in a record store there. I made a mental note about buying it then one of my marine buddies actually did. After giving “Diver Down” a listen, he proclaimed that the album sucked and had another person corroborate his feelings on it. That was enough to put me off buying it. Furthermore, when returning to the US two months later, hearing the first single, “Pretty Woman” didn’t inspire me with confidence and neither did the follow up single, “Dancing in the Street.” In fact, those songs gave me the impression that Van Halen had given up song writing and were simply getting by covering other’s songs. Then about a year later, I heard “Happy Trails” on a bar’s juke box and thought, “Now I’m definitely not going to buy this.” So, last Sunday night was the first time ever, that I listened to the full album.

Let me say that “Diver Down” doesn’t suck. However, it’s not as good as their previous four albums either. One thing I noticed and I wished I knew back then not to trust a song played on commercial radio, is that the radio version “Dancing in the Street” had much of Eddie’s guitar solo removed and that’s a shame. I think that song has his best solo on the album. While it may not be as good as it’s predecessor’s, there are some glimpses of what made Van Halen great in the early 80s. The first two tracks had me thinking that maybe this album wasn’t going to be as bad as I first imagined. There are three instrumentals on the album, nothing like “Eruption” but “Cathedral” is quite good. “The Full Bug” is a good one towards the end and it could have been the closer but now that I see that “Happy Trails” is at the end, I think that maybe they were trying to go out with a sense of humour so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

As for the band, David Lee Roth’s vocals are just as good and he stamps his personality on the album. Then again, his ego couldn’t be ignored and his limited vocal ability fits in well with the songs. As usual, Eddie has spots where his guitar work shines, it’s just unfortunate that there isn’t a cool solo with every song. Needless to say but the rhythm section of Alex and Michael is as solid as the other albums no faulting that. So, my verdict is that “Diver Down” is not bad. It would be even better if they had not included “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now.)” A totally unnecessary song in my view.

Track Listing:

  1. Where Have all the Good Times Gone
  2. Hang’ em High
  3.  Cathedral
  4. Secrets
  5. Intruder
  6. Pretty Woman
  7. Dancing in the Street
  8. Little Guitars (instrumental)
  9. Little Guitars
  10. Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)
  11. The Full Bug
  12. Happy Trails
Van Halen

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- vocals, synthesizer, harmonica, acoustic guitar on The Full Bug

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

If I had ignored my buddy thirty three years ago and had bought “Diver Down,” it would have gone into my rotation. I listen to albums in a strict order, don’t ask. I wouldn’t have listened to it once and then forgotten it. However, when I did listen to it, it wouldn’t have been with the same enthusiasm as the first four Van Halen albums.

Next post: Loudness- Devil Soldier

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Great Metal Albums of 1981: Motley Crue- Too Fast for Love

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Too_Fast

Back in 1981, I thought I did a great job keeping up with all the music that was going around at the time, especially considering the fact that I was a bit hampered by serving in the military back then. However, the more I explore this year in music, not only have a drawn the conclusion that 1981 was a killer year for music, I feel slightly sick at my discovery of how many great albums that went past me unnoticed, including this debut album from Motley Crue.

I did hear the album in retrospect after hearing the great follow up to it and I did like it then but hearing it again after such a long lay off, I like it even more. There are some killer jams laid down on this one. The first five songs on this album really get things going here. All of them can be metal classics so I find myself asking “Why aren’t they?” Maybe I will find the answer as I continue the journey through the golden age of heavy metal. Actually, I should say the first six songs because “Piece of the Action” was quite a good belter as well. Again, I don’t take anything away from the rest of the album as they too are decent songs and the title track quite rightly can stand along side the first six. What I conclude was that in 1981, Motley Crue were definitely hungry and that hunger shown in the intensity of “Too Fast For Love.”

Another issue from listening to the album has also surfaced here. I now offer an official apology to Crue guitarist Mick Mars. See, I always had him written down as the worst guitarist in metal but now I withdraw that branding from Mick. Getting things in perspective, I am not going the other way and start comparing him with the likes of Van Halen, Nugent, Rhodes or even Iommi, but “Too Fast For Love,” proves to me that he’s not as bad as I first figured. Mick, if you’re reading this, my most humble apologies.

Track Listing:

1. Live Wire

2. Come and Dance

3. Public Enemy #1

4. Merry Go Round

5. Take Me to the Top

6. Piece of the Action

7. Starry Eyes

8. Too Fast for Love

9. On With the Sh0w

Motley Crue

Motley Crue

Vince Neil- vocals

Nikki Sixx- bass

Mick Mars- guitars

Tommy Lee- drums

“Too Fast For Love” shows Motley Crue at a time when they were hungry and just wanted to create some good in your face heavy metal. As we will see further on down the line, something changed but we can leave that til another day. In the mean time, lets celebrate what has become for me, one of the biggest surprise albums from 1981.

Next post: The Plasmatics- Metal Priestess

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Great Metal Albums of 1981: Van Halen- Fair Warning

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Van_Halen_-_Fair_Warning

New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) may have reigned supreme in 1981 but it didn’t mean that American metal was muted in that year and that was largely due to Van Halen’s fourth album, “Fair Warning.” For some people at the time, this album was supposed to be a redemption for Van Halen after their supposedly disappointing “Women and Children First” album. (I wasn’t disappointed with that album.) I will also agree with the critic who said that “Fair Warning” was a little better than the previous album but since neither album was as bad as some of these ‘critics’ made them out to be, I will have to say that they are both great albums. However, I will also state that neither quite makes it to the level of their first two, but come on, Van Halen I and II will always be at a level many albums will never attain so let’s give “Fair Warning” credit where it’s due.

From the opening notes in “Mean Street,” it was crystal clear that Eddie Van Halen shows why he was the ultimate guitar master in the early 80s. ┬áThe album takes you down a smooth road of great music, especially during the first five tracks reminding you why Van Halen held the flag for American metal. “Dirty Movies” and “Hear About it Later” stick their heads above the rest here with the former showing there is a sense of humour behind the metal. For years, I thought that song was called “Bitches of the Silver Screen.” I saw a video of the latter song played live and that completely blew me away. The acoustic intro quickly followed by the powerful rhythm of guitar, bass and drum, with some interesting guitar riffs thrown in around the vocals before cascading into a well played EVH guitar solo. There is little wonder why it’s my favourite song on the album. “Unchained” is more of a traditional Van Halen single but it still rocks while the rest of the album, while maybe not quite as mind blowing as the first five songs is still powerful enough to leave the listener contented once it has finished.

Track Listing:

1. Mean Street

2. Dirty Movies

3. Sinner’s Swing

4. Hear About it Later

5. Unchained

6. Push Comes to Shove

7. So This is Love

8. Sunday Afternoon in the Park

9. One Foot Out the Door

Van Halen

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

In a year when Britannia ruled the heavy metal waves, it was good to see that the guns of American metal didn’t remain silent. I have always said that both countries have always benefited from exchange of heavy metal. Van Halen showed they were still a major player in the game with “Fair Warning.”

Next post: The Plasmatics- Valley of the 1984

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

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